Pronoun switcheroos. We all do this. It’s never so obvious as when I’m sitting with clients...

“You know, you want to feel like he’s thinking about you, like you matter.”

“You want to make sure that you have enough money, you don’t want to just jump into anything. What if it doesn’t work out?”

“You like to think you’d be treated a little better.”

We all know they’re not talking about me. This is therapy and I’m the therapist, so surely they’re talking about themselves. I’ve also heard the “we” used this way, as in: “in what way do we try to separate ourselves from our experience using language.”

Which is what this is.

It can be powerful to simply say, “I wonder if you could try saying the same thing, but use ‘I’ instead of ‘you.’” Sometimes they have no idea what I’m talking about—a lot of us don’t even realize we’re doing it. But when it dawns on them (us? You?), when they (or, really, we) connect to the emotional impact of feeling like they we matter or are taking a big risk or being treated poorly, it can be humbling and powerful…. I mean when it dawns on me and I connect to the emotional impact of living this life. It is powerful. You get the picture.

Emily Fasten is an MFT intern in San Francisco. For more information about her practice, click here